I passed the OCA with 86% today, having dedicated a month and a half to the exam. I’ve been studying Java part-time for the last year, and have taken classes in core Java, Swing, JDBC and Servlets. Of course, Swing, JDBC and Servlets have nothing to do with the exam, but it’s a form of practice with Java so I mention them. Unfortunately, I was really rusty in Java, as my last term was only C++. I hadn’t written any Java in four months when I started prepping. I also had a self-imposed deadline, as this Monday coming up I’m starting a course in JSP/JSF, an advanced C++ course and have a Coursera Python course that I'll be discussing in the forums.
Resources I Used
Daniel Liang’s Introduction to Java Programming, Comprehensive
Mala Gupta’s OCA Java SE 7 Programmer I Certification Guide
Enthuware OCA Prep Course
You will probably have the same issue I did. Academia teaches you great coding convention formatted structure. The exam is anything but that. The exam will expect you to have an understanding of many scenarios that you just don’t see in academia. For example, every textbook and instructor has told me the proper entry method is public static void main(String args). I had no idea there is several different ways to write that method that will all be treated as the entry point:
static public void main(String args)
public static void main(String args)
static public void main(String args)
public static void main(String... args)
static public void main(String... args)
(plus all of those again with the final keyword)
When an instructor says, “This is how you do it.” why would I randomly try different ways? The exam will expect you to know those ways, plus other things you probably never saw in an university Java course (like initializer blocks, which I’m guessing my Java instructors would say are a “C” thing), or static imports.
My Practice Test Scores
Mala’s Chapter Exams: 68%
Mala’s Final Exam: 77%
Enthuware Starter Test: 72%
Test 1: 63%
Test 2: 72%
Test 3: 76%
Test 4: 64% (no idea what the heck I was doing that day…)
Last Day Test: 76%
(I doubled up on a few days, writing one in the morning and another in the evening).
Actual Exam: 86%
So, there you go. You can get ‘er done in an accelerated format if you try, just be prepared to work hard. I’m sure I could have added a few percentage points to the Actual Exam with more prep work, but you gotta play with the cards dealt to you.
Thanks for sharing your journey in such a detailed post. Many ranchers will definitely benefit from your experiences & suggestions. Have a cow!
Chris R Barrett wrote:I stopped using Eclipse. To paraphrase the Bartenders and Sheriffs, IDEs make you lazy. I started writing Java with a text editor and manually compiling, running via the command line. I quickly realized how much I had been using the IDE to spot silly mistakes that won’t be forgiven when missed on the exam.
When you are learning Java, it's a very wise thing not to use an IDE. You'll learn more quickly using text editor and javac/java. Brings back memories to those good old days on college when learning Java. My computer was so outdated I couldn't run any of the available IDEs at that time , so had to use Notepad & javac/java. In the end that appeared not a bad thing at all (acing the Java exam with flying colors)
Chris R Barrett wrote:I owe folks like Winston, Campbell, Roel, Jeanne, and Henry a lot.
Thanks for these nice words. Always nice to get some appreciation!
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:I like when people post their mock scores and exam scores. It helps to see the correlation so folks can see where they stand.
True! Certainly if they add some valuable other information too. That's why I added a link to this thread in the sticky thread about OCAJP7 exam, so it's easy to find for other ranchers.
I noticed I missed information on the actual test center. I have added those details to this thread.
Regarding my test scores for Enthuware, I think the marks were lower than the real test, because the Enthuware tests gave me exposure to a lot of "I have no idea, I've never thought to try that" scenarios that I might have seen in industry, but never saw in the more sanitized examples in academia. This is a good thing, because similar scenarios were on the real test.
The Enthuware tests included | and & bitwise operator related questions that were not in Mala's book, plus the System.arraycopy function (bitwise and System.arraycopy didn't appear on my actual test, but I assume that's not true for everyone).
Frankly, I would rather have hard practice tests than go into the real test with too much confidence.